Posted by Paul McCall on December 6, 2012 at 12:50 AM


Paul J. McCall

Jim was six foot two, seventeen and Elvis Presley handsome, and already he loved to drink. Our family lived on a crumbling farm in Hopedale, Massachusetts. One afternoon in the summer of 1969, Jim had a few of his fellow indulgers with him on the patio in our back yard. Getting bored, Jim and his drinking buddies decided to hop in Jim's Demo-Derby looking 1963 Chevy Impala and go riding around the back-country roads. There were four of them in the car, the girl Jim was with and another couple in the backseat. When they came upon a cow farm, the girls immediately wanted to pull over and watch the cows and maybe get a chance to pat one or two of them. Jim saw this as his chance to show what a professional he was with farm critters. Everyone had a good buzz going, and each had an open can of cold beer in their hand as they jumped out of the car. The cans were always cold because they never lasted long enough to get warm. All but Jim climbed the banking to the fence to watch the cows.

Jim hung back before getting out of the car so he could take a large gulp of Tango from the bottle he had in a paper bag that he was concealing between his knees. He was paying more attention to that bottle than the girl he was with. When the girls got out of the car, they ran right up to the fence and began calling for the cows to come to them. Jim, however, went to the rear door of the car, opened it and sat on the back seat with his legs out and his feet on the ground. After slipping the bag with his precious Tango under the rear of the drivers' seat. Reaching down, he took a big hand full of grain out of a coffee can he kept there. Getting out, he closed the door and climbed the embankment and then walked over to the girls.

"Hold out your hand," Jim said, he poured a little grain into each of the girl's palms. The girls were thrilled, and sure enough, the cows slowly came toward them.


Everyone was happy petting the cows when the other guy with them said,

"Hey…look at the size of that big cow under that tree over there." Jim looked over and immediately knew it wasn't a cow, but a big bull escaping the hot sun in the shade of a large tree.

"That's no cow, that's a bull you idiot," Jim said, exhibiting his expertise to the young ladies."I wouldn't want to mess with him, he's a monster," "are you kidding I work with those things all the time," Jim said boasting.


“I do…I’ve even ridden them” Jim ventured to say."Yeah, well, why don't you hop on that one?" the guy said jokingly but with a challenging look on his face. Knowing the girls were listening, Jim stuck to his story. The more Jim bragged, the closer he brought himself to being humiliated in front of the girls.

“You don’t think I will?” Jim was now on the path of no return.

Jim's mouth was the cause of most of his problems. The girl Jim was with spoke up,

"no Jim don't do it.""I bet he won't even let you get near him" the guy taunted. At this point, Jim knew he was in too deep to back out now. Jim threw his head back as he finished off his can of beer, "I guess I'll have to show you." He walked back to the car opened the back door and sat with his leg's out the door, reached under the front seat and snuck a considerable couple of swallows of Tango, then placed it back under the seat. As he got out, he grabbed the coffee can of grain. Jim always kept the grain in his car for the times when one of our horses would break out through the fence. He would use the grain to lure the horse close enough so he could grab the animals halter. Then he would either walk or ride the animal back to the corral, depending on how upset the animal was. To keep his stash of Tango from being discovered, Jim displayed the can openly so everyone would think that the grain was the sole reason for him returning to the car.

To keep the Bull from getting to the cows, a barbed wire fence separated him from the cows. As Jim slipped through the barbed whire, the guy asked, "whatcha gonna do with that?" as he nodded to the coffee can in Jim's hand.

“You don’t know much about Bulls, do you?" Jim said as he paused, looking at the guy like he was an idiot. "These critters are as dumb as a rock, maybe even dumber than you? They'll do anything for some grain with molasses in it." With that, Jim started slowly walking toward the large tree. At the same time, he was struggling to show no indication of fear, as Jim got closer, the Bull finally became aware of him. The Bull was content in the shade, so he stayed put and just followed Jim with his eyes for a while. Eventually dropping his head back down to graze some more. The bright, hot sun made Jim's eyes squint as he slowly walked toward the tree. A bead of salty burning sweat ran into his right eye, causing him to stop and rub it dry with his right shirtsleeve.

When he finally reached the tree he looked for the lowest branch under which to pour the entire contents of the coffee can then quickly and quietly climbed the tree and placed himself straddling the branch above where he had put the grain. By now his accelerated heartbeat was helping the Tango do its job, and with his Vodka enhanced bravery Jim began showboating a bit, waving and silently mocking the Bull for the benefit of his audience as he sat on the branch as if it were a horse. When the Bull finally got a whiff of the grain, he immediately sauntered over to it and began to eat. Jim knew there were only seconds before the Bull would finish the grain, so it now or never. He hung on to the branch and swung around to where he was hanging on with his feet and his arms over the Bull. He let go with his feet, carfully spreading his legs so as to not touch the Bull. Then finally lowered himself onto the Bull. At first contact, the Bull jumped, but just a little, he was not yet finished with the grain and was determond not to leave any behind.

Jim thought, hey this wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be and relaxed a bit, although the height really alarmed him, he began waving to his friends. The guy who dared him to ride the Bull looked at the girls and said,"Damn, he really wasn't bullshitting, no pun intended." Then the girl that was with Jim said,

“Oh my god, the bull is moving” "so…" the guy said. Suddenly Jim realized he had nothing to hold on to and looking down, it seemed like he was sitting on the top of a tractor-trailer. The Bull walked for a few feet but soon began to break into a trot. Jim found himself bouncing up and down on the Bulls back with nothing to hold on to and each time he did the Bull got more alarmed with the foreign presence on his back and went faster and faster. In fear of falling, Jim grabbed the Bull by the horns, pun intended. The Bull then broke into a full gallop. Jim was now hanging on for dear life, the Bull sensed something grabbing his horns. Stopping on a dime, the Bull through his head down toward the ground and between his front legs. This momentum flung Jim over the bulls head, breaking his grip on the horns and propelling Jim for some distance. Jim landed hard on the hard ground on his back with such force that it not only knocked the wind out of his lungs, but the centrifugal force tore his shoes from his feet cartwheeling them for some distance kicking up little puffs of dust as they went spinning across the dry ground.

Jim lay there, unable to move or breathe. He was flat on his back and on the verge of losing consciousness with his socks pulled down to his ankles, leaving about a half a foot of empty sock hanging and pointing towards the ground. Jim could not move, but he was still aware of the Bull, and then he heard his friends voices all holler at the same time,

“He’s coming back!” now, Jim was drunk, but he knew that meant move or die. With no air in his lungs and no strength, he forced himself up and staggering as fast as he could toward the fence, he could hear the Bull coming then he could feel the ground vibrating as the Bull got closer and closer. His vision was as distorted as a handheld camera being handled by an armature running for his life. He saw the fence get closer and closer, and the Bull louder and louder behind him. He knew the Bull was close because he could see his friends backing away from the fence as he approached. When he got to the barbed wire, he threw himself through the wire tearing his shirt, and he rolled down the embankment to the gravel at the edge of the road.

He laid there motionless on his back, looking up into the blue, and for a moment, watched the white cloud's moving across the sky. All were asking,"Are you alright Jim?" it was difficult for him to speak, but when he was able he said,

“I told ya I could ride em." Then he worked his way up on his elbows, and his girlfriend helped him struggle to his feet, he was covered in dust his hair was sticking up in every direction, his socks hanging from the ends of his feet, his shirt was torn. He staggered to the car opened the back door and sat down with a thump on the back seat. He reached under the driver's seat and grabbed his bottle of Tango with no attempt to hide it and took a massive couple of gulps, wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt and leaned back against the car seat and said to the guy that dared him to ride the Bull,"Okay big shot, now you try it," the girl's said,

“what about your shoes?”

“Yeah… there you go big shot, go get my shoes”."No, I'm not going out there.""yeah just like I thought, all mouth." Jim took another swig, put the cap back on his Tango, put the bottle down then pulled his socks back up.


He got out and walked to the fence."Where is he?" Jim asked."He went back under the tree." Jim looked to be sure and then bent down and slipped through the fence. Quietly and calmly, he walked over and picked up his shoes and came back. He went through the wire and walked back to the car, he sat on the back seat and brushed off his socks and put his shoes back on. The other girl said to Jim's girl,

“your boyfriend’s a mess” Jim interrupted the conversation,"yeah, but at least she's with a man."The next day I happened to stop over my mother's house, I saw Jim on the patio sitting back in a lawn chair with his feet up. He could hardly move and was covered in bruises, cuts, and scrapes. My first thought was he got into another barroom brawl."What the hell happened to you?" I asked anxiously awaiting yet another barroom brawl story. Jim had his eyes closed from the sun. Slowly he put his hand over them like a visor and blinked them halfway open and looked at me. Every move was slow, he reached around behind his chair where he had placed his Tango out from the sun, grabbed his bottle and held it up like the statue of liberty and said,"Nothing a bottle of Tango can't cure my brother".


© Copyright 2018 PJ-MACK. All rights reserved.


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9:26 AM on December 11, 2012 
...and a daughter was born, making all the wrong choices just like her dear ol' dad! Guess the apple REALLY doesn't fall too far from the tree huh! Great story. Very well written.